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NCHSR Newsletter

Issue 3, January - March 2012

National Centre in HIV Social Research  


Welcome to the third issue of NCHSR's quarterly e-Newsletter, which brings you the latest information about our current research projects, reports and events. In addition to disseminating study results, we are hoping that the newsletter will stimulate discussion about ways the sector can translate social science research into policy and practice.

You are cordially invited to subscribe to this newsletter and occasional e-alerts which will announce new NCHSR publications and upcoming seminars. - Prof John de Wit

In this Newsletter

  • Editorial
  • Sexual health needs of young gay men: increasing the coverage of sexual health programs
  • Depression report launched
  • Rewards and challenges of providing HIV care in general practice
  • Latest news


Sexual health needs of young gay men: increasing the coverage of sexual health programs

Those aged 30 to 45 years have been the main target of recent sexual health programs for gay men in Australia. However, current surveillance data indicate a possible increase in HIV notifications among younger gay men. Gathering information on age-related differences in sexual health needs among gay men is pivotal to understanding the current context and informing sexual health programs.

Using data from the online survey How much do you care?* researchers Philippe Adam, John de Wit, Jorlijn Hermans, Chris Bourne, Douglas Knox, Yves Calmette and Julia Purchas compared sexual risk-taking, HIV/STIs testing, HIV/STI knowledge, and exposure to sexual health campaigns between young gay men (16–26 years) and older gay men (27 years and older). Results revealed that while younger gay men reported similar rates of unprotected anal intercourse as older gay men, their HIV/STI knowledge was lower and almost three out of ten had never been tested for HIV/STIs. Poor knowledge and low testing rates among younger gay men seem to be related to lack of exposure to HIV campaigns reported by almost a quarter. The findings provide new insights into the sexual health needs of younger gay men: increasing the coverage of sexual health promotion among them may be required. Read the key data and findings...

Dr Philippe Adam, sociologist and prevention scientist at NCHSR, was asked for his thoughts on the implications of these finding for the development and range of sexual health programs in the future. “Recent sexual health promotion campaigns have certainly not deliberately excluded young gay men, but often they have not directly targeted them either. This may explain why a significant number of young men in the survey reported no exposure to sexual health campaigns. Additionally, the style, iconography and topics in most recent campaigns were perhaps more in line with the sexual health needs of more mature, highly sexually active gay men who are often referred to as ‘sexually adventurous gay men’. The survey results indicate that focussing sexual health promotion efforts on these men alone is not sufficient. Clearly a new generation of campaigns needs to be created to meet the sexual health needs of young gay men and to capture their attention in novel and imaginative ways. It is important that young gay men see themselves reflected in these campaigns if these campaigns are to have the desired impact on the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of younger gay men”.

* The survey was conducted by the National Centre in HIV Social Research, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

The project has been funded by the HARP Unit, South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, and has benefitted from the support of the STI in Gay Men Action group (STIGMA), ACON and the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO).  


Depression report launched


Supported by beyondblue with funding from The Movember Foundation, NCHSR recently conducted a secondary analysis of previously collected data to explore how, in general practice, alcohol and drug use might impact on the diagnosis and management of depression among gay men.

We found that men who used three or more types of drugs in the previous six months were three times more likely to have major depression than other men. However, this was the only drug-use variable that was independently associated with major depression.

Both doctors and their patients felt there was a complex relationship between drug use and depression, but whereas doctors were concerned with the health effects of drug use, patients talked about the beneficial role that drugs played in their lives. There was good agreement between doctors’ assessments of major depression and patients’ scores on a screening tool for depression but agreement was lower when men reported frequent use of crystal methamphetamine.

Three journal articles were published and an online Research Summary, launched in January 2012, describes the key findings of these papers. 

Rewards and challenges of providing HIV care in general practice 


NCHSR’s HIV General Practice Workforce Project has been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council to explore contemporary workforce issues affecting general practitioners who provide HIV care in both high and low HIV-caseload settings around Australia.

Two articles have now been published from the first stage of this project. Twenty-four ‘key informants’ were interviewed for this first stage, that is, individuals working in senior positions in organisations which influence HIV care policy and practice in Australia, including government, non-government and professional/education organisations. Together, this group of interview participants represent every state and territory in Australia, a broad range of professional backgrounds, and expertise across the diversity of national, state and population-specific policy issues relating to this topic.

The first paper explores how key informants characterised GPs as being ‘moved’ to take up and maintain a special interest in HIV medicine by the clinical, professional and political dimensions of the role of HIV doctor, with the political dimensions often described as the most distinctive compared to other areas of general practice medicine:

Newman, C.E., Kidd, M.R., de Wit, J.B., Reynolds, R.H., Canavan, P.G., Kippax, S.C. (2011). What moves a family doctor to specialise in HIV? Interviews with Australian policy key informants. Culture, Health and Sexuality, 13, 1151–1164.

The second paper was an invited contribution to a special issue of sexually transmissible infections on ‘Health Systems for HIV Care and Treatment’. The investigators were very pleased to have been offered the chance to contribute an Australian perspective, particularly as the editorial noted that it is one of only two that focuses on current experiences and challenges in developed countries:

Newman, C.E., de Wit, J.B., Kippax, S.C., Reynolds, R.H., Canavan, P.G., Kidd, M.R. (2012). The role of the general practitioner in the Australian approach to HIV care: Interviews with ‘key informants’ from government, non-government and professional organisations. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 88, 132–135.

Publications focussing on interviews with clinicians will be reported in forthcoming issues of this newsletter.


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NCHSR Conference 2012

Join us for the 12th Social Research Conference on HIV, hepatitis C and related diseases: "silence&articulation", to be held on 12-13 April 2012. Register now...


Contact us

If you have any queries about this newsletter, NCHSR or our work, please contact Ann Whitlaw by telephoning
+61 2 9385 6776 or by email to 



Dr Philippe Adam

Ms Judi Rainbow

Mr Terry Fairclough

Latest News


'silence & articulation'

NCHSR invites you to the 12th Social Research Conference on HIV, Hepatitis C and Related Diseases to be held 12-13 April 2012 at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. The conference theme is 'silence&articulation' which will address how society understands and approaches stigmatised illnesses, sexualities and illicit drug use, and the problematic nature of evidence, knowledge and facts in these discourses. To view the conference program & speakers’ bios and to register, go to the conference website... 

Hepatitis C: Prioritising patient involvement in care and treatment

An NCHSR Consortium Workshop on Hepatitis C care and support will be held at UNSW on 11 April, the day prior to ‘silence&articulation’. The workshop aims to explore principles of chronic disease self-management (CDSM) and suggest how they can be tailored to hepatitis C; increase delegates’ knowledge of CDSM principles and practice and explore their application in individual settings; and provide a forum for exchange of ideas and experiences aimed at enhancing non-clinical care and support for people living with chronic hepatitis C. To view details and register, go to the NCHSR website... 

NCHSR seminar series 2012

Each year, NCHSR hosts a series of informative and thought-provoking research seminars where NCHSR staff, postgraduate students and other stakeholders share their work with academics, both from within and outside the Centre. Professionals who work with people affected by HIV, viral hepatitis and illicit drugs are also very welcome to attend. Read more... 

NCHSR AusAID ALAF programs

NCHSR is continuing to coordinate successful capacity building education programs funded by AusAID under the Australian Leadership Award Fellowship (ALAF) scheme. In February, in collaboration with the Centre for HIV Policy at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, NCHSR hosted 17 Chinese leaders in the Party Schools of the Chinese Communist Party from 14 provinces who undertook a three week training program in Sydney.
In March, NCHSR will host another group comprising 13 Chinese non-government organisation (NGO) leaders in the field of HIV. This program aims to empower civil society with the information needed to facilitate HIV prevention, treatment and care in China and to foster links between Chinese NGO leaders and their Australia counterparts. Read more...

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